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CLWA OFFICIALS STUDY NEW FLORIDA PLANT.

Byline: Staff and Wire Services

TAMPA, Fla. - Officials from Singapore to California are watching the construction of a desalination plant that will make Tampa the first city in the nation to use converted sea water as a primary source for drinking water - a concept the Castaic Lake Water Agency is investigating.

Santa Clarita's water wholesaler has considered desalting water to use as a supply during drought, but so far officials are only discussing the idea.

The agency is considering participating in a regional plant, through which the agency would pay for the desalination process but sell that water in exchange for State Water Project supply, said Peter Kavounas, CLWA board vice president.

``We are still looking at it as a way to firm up the supply so we aren't as exposed to droughts,'' he said.

A high sticker price, however, is deterring many water agencies, including the CLWA, Kavounas said.

The first-year water cost would be about $560 an acre-foot and a 30-year normal cost of water about $680 an acre-foot - at least $400 more than imported water from Northern California, according to the CLWA Urban Water Management Plant.

But the Tampa plant, scheduled to open by the end of this year, is expected to convert sea water efficiently enough to be able to sell it for about $2 per 1,000 gallons, far below the industry standard. It is designed to produce 25 million gallons a day when fully operational.

``It's drawing attention from all quarters of the industry,'' said Richard Allen, editor of Water Desalination Reports, an industry newsletter. ``It's a new low-cost level. People are watching something like this.''

Key West has had a desalination plant for years, and one was built in Santa Barbara in 1992. Both are much smaller, and are used only for emergency supplies.

The Tampa Bay plant has raised fears among environmental groups. They say they want strict monitoring of brine discharge from the plant into the bay with a shutdown clause if the discharge exceeds permitted levels.

Worldwide, 13,600 desalination plants produce 6.8 billion gallons of water daily.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 2, 2002
Words:349
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